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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Chapped Hands: Prevention & Expectations
      Category : Health Centers > Hands and Feet

Chapped Hands

Alternate Names : Hand Eczema, Dermatitis

Chapped Hands | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What can be done to prevent the condition?

People subject to chapped hands should limit the amount of soap they use and the length of time their hands are exposed to the water. Some people may be able to use mild, moisturizing soap on their hands. A few need to limit soap use to the underarms and genitalia.

After patting the hands dry with a towel, the individual should apply a moisturizer. Two types of moisturizers are available over-the-counter:

  • cosmetic moisturizers, which provide immediate relief of dry skin but last only while they are applied to the skin. For people with mild or intermittent chapped hands, a cosmetic moisturizer may be enough to keep the skin from feeling dry.
  • therapeutic moisturizers, which have demonstrated the ability to act as a barrier that keeps water from evaporating from the skin. Many therapeutic moisturizers contain mineral oil or petroleum.
  • The healthcare provider may also prescribe creams containing alpha hydroxy acids or urea to get rid of dead skin and minimize itching.

    Following are other measures to help prevent chapped hands:

  • wearing protective gloves whenever possible
  • avoiding prolonged exposure to water, such as swimming
  • avoiding exposure to chemicals that irritate the skin
  • What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    If chapped hands are left untreated, the person may have the following problems:

  • difficulty doing things without wearing protective gloves
  • recurrent skin conditions such as outbreaks of eczema or skin inflammation
  • infections, which may occur when bacteria enter cracks in the skin
  • What are the risks to others?

    Chapped hands are not contagious and pose no risk to others.

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    Chapped Hands: Diagnosis & Tests


    Chapped Hands: Treatment & Monitoring

    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/24/01

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